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SANTA CLARA JUDGE ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT After more than 23 years on the Santa Clara County Superior Court bench, Judge Robert Baines announced Monday that he is retiring Sept. 30. “It is time to take on new challenges,” he said, adding that he has enjoyed his tenure on the bench. Baines, 60, said he plans to take some time off before he looks for work at an alternative dispute resolution firm. “I’m sorry he’s leaving,” county DA George Kennedy said. “I really think he’s a fine person and a fine judge.” Baines is in the court’s civil trial department and said he “loves” it, which is why he decided to go into ADR work. Baines was appointed to the Santa Clara County Municipal Court by then-Gov. Jerry Brown in 1983. He moved to the superior court when the two courts were consolidated in 1998. Prior to joining the bench, Baines was an assistant city attorney for San Jose from 1980 to 1983 and was the directing attorney for the Santa Clara County Bar Association’s law foundation, now know as the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, from 1975 to 1980. A graduate of Boalt Hall School of Law, Baines started his career with the Legal Aid Society of Santa Clara County. In 2000, he received the “Trial Judge of the Year” award from the Santa Clara County Trial Lawyers Association. “I am sorry to see him leave, but it was not unexpected,” said Santa Clara County Superior Court Presiding Judge Alden Danner. With Judge Ron Del Pozzo taking a leave of absence to run for district attorney, Danner lost two judges in less than a week. But Danner said, “We can manage, pending more appointments.” Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed two new judges to the bench last week, and Danner said he is hopeful more will come soon. — Julie O’Shea 2 LAW FIRMS HIT WITH MALPRACTICE SUIT WASHINGTON — Two law firms have been hit with a legal malpractice suit seeking hundreds of millions of dollars for their roles in the collapse of a company that owned a pair of D.C. hospitals. The suit, filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the District, seeks $242 million in damages from Kutak Rock and Epstein, Becker & Green. The firms were counsel to Doctors Community Healthcare Corp., which owned Greater Southeast Community Hospital and Hadley Memorial Hospital, both in Anacostia. The suit claims that Kutak and Epstein, Becker lawyers committed legal malpractice and aided and abetted the deepening insolvency of DCHC and the hospitals it owned. Also named as defendants in the suit are executives and former executives of DCHC, including Paul Tuft, DCHC’s chief executive officer and a former partner in Kutak’s Atlanta office. At its heart, the suit, filed by trustee Sam Alberts, alleges lawyers at Kutak and Epstein, Becker negligently signed off on opinion letters for DCHC that allowed the cash-strapped hospitals to borrow money — at unusually high costs — from a company whose practices later came under federal scrutiny. It also accuses the law firms of harming the interests of the company and its creditors by advising on hospital acquisitions that hastened DCHC’s insolvency. Both firms filed motions to dismiss, arguing the lawyers had no knowledge that the transactions in question would be harmful to the hospital company and that they were merely doing what their clients requested. — Legal Times

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